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Easy Riders Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-And Rock 'N Roll Generation Save by [Biskind, Peter]
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Easy Riders Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-And Rock 'N Roll Generation Save Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 141 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Not only is Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls the best book in recent memory on turn-of-the-'70s film, it is beyond question the best book we'll ever get on the subject. Why? Because once the big names who spilled the beans to Biskind find out that other people spilled an equally piquant quantity of beans, nobody will dare speak to another writer with such candor, humor, and venom again.

Biskind did hundreds of interviews with people who make the president look accessible: Scorsese, Spielberg, Lucas, Coppola, Geffen, Beatty, Kael, Towne, Altman. He also spoke with countless spurned spouses and burned partners, alleged victims of assault by knife, pistol, and bodily fluids. Rather more responsible than some of his sources, Biskind always carefully notes the denials as well as the astounding stories he has compiled. He tells you about Scorsese running naked down Mulholland Drive after his girlfriend, crying, "Don't leave me!"; grave robbing on the set of Apocalypse Now; Faye Dunaway apparently flinging urine in Roman Polanski's face while filming Chinatown; Michael O'Donoghue's LSD-fueled swan dive onto a patio; Coppola's mad plan for a 10-hour film of Goethe's Elective Affinities in 3-D; the ocean suicide attempt Hal "Captain Wacky" Ashby gave up when he couldn't find a swimsuit that pleased him; countless dalliances with porn stars; Russian roulette games and psychotherapy sessions in hot tubs. But he also soberly gives both sides ample chance to testify.

Easy Riders, Raging Bulls is also more than a fistful of dazzling anecdotes. Methodically, as thrillingly as a movie attorney, Biskind builds the case that Hollywood was revived by wild ones who then betrayed their own dreams, slit their own throats, and destroyed an art form by producing that mindless, inhuman modern behemoth, the blockbuster.

When Spielberg was making the first true blockbuster, Jaws, he sneaked Lucas in one day when nobody was around, got him to put his head in the shark's mechanical mouth, and closed the shark's mouth on him. The gizmo broke and got stuck, but the two young men somehow extricated Lucas's head and hightailed it like Tom and Huck. As Peter Biskind's scathing, funny, wise book demonstrates, they only thought they had escaped. --Tim Appelo

From Library Journal

A former executive editor of Premiere on 1970s Hollywood.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 5058 KB
  • Print Length: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st Touchstone Ed edition (December 13, 2011)
  • Publication Date: December 13, 2011
  • Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005Z37BNQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #93,742 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book is a terrific read: an amazingly revealing insight into the workings of the Hollywood machine and a convincing explanation of why the film industry is the way it is today. Fascinating for any film fan but truly essential for those particularly interested in Coppola, Scorcese, Altman and the other enfants terribles of the 70s. I learned more than I ever thought I would about the strange habits, curious peccadilloes and psychological frailties of these legendary directors and producers. Seminal figures such as Dennis Hopper, William Friedkin, Peter Bogdanovich and Scorsese all come across as frighteningly deranged, emphasising the fine line that separates genius from insanity - and many of these characters clearly ended up on the wrong side of the divide. One of Biskind's great strengths is that he seeks to portray all sides of the story, and it's hard not to believe the majority of what is reported simply for the fact that if wasn't true you can bet your life that lawsuits would have stopped publication in its tracks.
The spirit of the times engendered by the rise of the anti-Vietnam, hippy counterculture, generated a climate where a new form of creativity was allowed to enter the mainstream for the first time. This produced a fabulous glut of films - Bonnie and Clyde, The Godfather, The Exorcist, Taxi Driver, The Deerhunter, Star Wars, MASH and dozens of others. Biskind's belief is that the rise of the super director destroyed this astounding period in Hollywood history - egos and pay checks became so over inflated that eventually the studios realised that they had to seize back control.
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Format: Paperback
In Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, Peter Biskind puts the filmmaking of the 1970s in perspective in a way that wouldn't have been possible in the 1980s (or even early-'90s). Aside from the fascinating stories behind the most significant films of the era, like The Last Picture Show or The Exorcist, he sheds light on the state of filmmaking today. The current movie landscape--for better or worse--wouldn't look the way it does if not for those award-winning blockbusters or for the high profile flops like Daisy Miller and Sorcerer...which just happened to have been made by the same people. Peter Bogdanovich (The Cat's Meow) and William Friedkin (Rules of Engagement) are only just starting to recover from the turbulent era in which they experienced their greatest triumphs and most resounding defeats. Biskind gives lesser known filmmakers, like the late, great Hal Ashby (Harold and Maude), their due, as well.

Those looking for the definitive book on the filmmaking of the 1970s should be forewarned that this is mostly an overview of an era and doesn't cover every picture or every director, but it's a compulsively readable account of a time we aren't likely to see again. At his worst--and as many have already noted--Biskind can be more gossipy than necessary, but that may just draw in those movie fans who've never actually picked up a book about filmmaking before. Maybe it could even lead them to pick up Andrew Sarris' classic American Cinema next (or the other side of the coin: Kenneth Anger's Hollywood Babylon series).

One way or the other, Easy Riders, Raging Bulls is a worthy addition to Stephen Bach's Final Cut (about the making of Heaven's Gate...and unmaking of United Artists) and David McClintick's Indecent Exposure (about former Columbia prexy David Begelman's fall from Hollywood grace) in revealing the human beings--and the human cost--that helped to shape what is now seen as a high water mark in cinema history. Just ask Quentin Tarantino or P.T. Anderson.
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Format: Paperback
Good Lord, is this book overrated?

Peter Biskind's EASY RIDERS, RAGING BULLS is a perfect example on how NOT to write about movie history. In this case, it's the period between 1968-1980; a decade when directors like Spielberg, Scorsese, Altman and Coppola became powerful figures in the movie industry, releasing classics like "Jaws" (1975), "Taxi Driver" (1976), "Nashville" (1975) and "The Godfather" (1972). Biskind makes an effort to comprehend the entire decade in the span of 430-435 pages and fails miserably.

Throughout the entire book, Biskind makes one flawed argument after another, making generalizations about the state of movies by focusing on only a small section of what was released at the time. For instance, Biskind makes a romantic hyperbole that the movies of the 1970s became successful because audiences were part of the Cahiers du Cinema crowd that desired for watch tougher and more challenging fare. Wrong. As David A. Cook's terrific book, LOST ILLUSIONS, illustrates, the top stars of that decade were not method actors like Al Pacino, Dustin Hoffman or Robert De Niro, but action heroes like Burt Reynolds, Clint Eastwood, Sylvester Stallone and Robert Redford. Some of the most successful movies of that decade were not artistic statements like "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" (1971) or "Amarcord" (1974), but movies that were either modeled after the exploitation circuit ("The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"; "The Rocky Horror Picture Show"; "The Omen"; "The Exorcist"), star-studded Hollywood epics ("Airport"; "The Poseidon Adventure"; "Earthquake"; "The Towering Inferno") or violent action movies ("The Godfather"; "Death Wish"; "Deliverance"; "Billy Jack"; "The Getaway"; the Dirty Harry and James Bond movies). Sensation, not artistry, was the rule, then as now.
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